Wilco | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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There's no moment on Wilco's new Summerteeth (Reprise) more disconcerting than the end of the lovely ballad "She's a Jar," when Jeff Tweedy coos tenderly over an invitingly catchy melody, "She begs me not to hit her." But the same tension between summery, feel-good hooks and dark lyrics pervades the entire album. There's a grain or two of goodness in each of Tweedy's characters, but they're almost always sabotaged by uglier traits; only on the protective lullaby "My Darling" do the emotions seem pure. Otherwise the narrators are consistently caught up in the brutal complications of love: "A Shot in the Arm" searches for some way to reinvigorate a withering relationship, while "ELT" laments a lack of attentiveness after it's too late. This dire litany of regrets, recriminations, and rage is offset by Wilco's most accomplished, ebullient music to date, a vibrant mix of sounds that references the Beach Boys and the Beatles without sounding derivative. Wilco's developed into one of the best rock bands going, and I have no doubt that this record will resonate for many years to come. Joe Henry opens; the show is sold-out. Friday, 7:30 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine; 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jay Blakesberg.

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